The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
29th July to 8th August 1946

One Hundred and Eighty-Ninth Day: Monday, 29th July, 1946
(Part 7 of 12)

[GENERAL RUDENKO continues.]

[Page 31]

In his search for a legal basis for this attitude, counsel for the defence Jahrreiss spoke at great length about Hitler's order. In the opinion of Counsel Jahrreiss, Hitler's order "was different" from the order of any other leader; Hitler's order was an act "legally immutable." Therefore, Counsel Jahrreiss asserts that: "Whatever the Charter may mean by the orders which it rejects, as a factor excluding criminal responsibility, is it possible to adopt the same attitude towards

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an order of Hitler's? Could this order be considered as an 'order' in the meaning of the Charter?"

The right to interpret law is the irrefutable right of every lawyer, including the counsel for the defence. Nevertheless, it is quite incomprehensible what logical or other methods have guided his assertion that the provisions of the Charter, specially drafted for the trial of major war criminals of Fascist Germany, did not factually imply the very conditions of the activities of these criminals.

What orders then, issued by whom and in what country, are meant by the Charter of the Tribunal?

On the contrary, it is indisputable that the authors of the Charter were fully aware of the specific conditions existing in Hitlerite Germany, were thoroughly familiar (from the material of the Kharkov and other trials) with the attempts of the defendants to hide behind Hitler's orders, and it is for this very reason that they made a special proviso to the effect that the execution of an obvious,y criminal order does not exonerate from criminal responsibility.

(c) On the responsibility of the State and individuals.

We think that the very authors themselves of this attempt to conceal a large group of ministers, Gauleiter and military commanders behind Hitler's back doubted, to a certain extent, the convincing power of a similar defensive manoeuvre since a new line of defence was introduced to support the manoeuvre in question.

"If the German Reich launched an attack in spite of the still- existent non-aggression pact " - said Counsel Jahrreiss -"then Germany committed an international offence and must answer for it according to the principles of International Law - the Reich alone, but not the individual person."
We cannot, primarily, omit to notice that the above point of view is not exactly a brand new one: even before the beginning of the official defence at this trial, certain unofficial defenders of war criminals willingly propagated a version to the effect that it was the German Government and the German nation who were to bear responsibility for criminal aggression and war crimes, and not individual persons.

When the subject of International Law, i.e., a State, violates the principles of International Law, certain consequences of an international character are entailed, but in no case does it entail the criminal responsibility of the State.

Any action on the part of the State in the sphere of international relations is committed by individual persons, by officials and by the agents of that State.

In carrying out such acts, these individuals may be guilty of the most varied offences in violation of either the common or the criminal law.

In the latter case, i.e., when their individual criminal responsibility is involved, they bear this responsibility in indictable cases, in conformity with the laws and before the courts of their own country, as well as - if such is the case - in conformity with the laws and before the courts of a foreign State.

In the present case, not only did the Hitierite State violate the principles of International Law, as a result of which measures were taken against the State but also some particular individuals, in committing those acts,. have personally committed criminal offences, for which they bear the criminal responsibility, in accordance with the Charter, before the International Military Tribunal.

(d) On the concept of conspiracy.

Defence counsel are unanimous in trying, in different forms and versions, to contest the charges of criminal conspiracy directed against the defendants. Extracting from various sources one-sided and tendentiously selected definitions of the conspiracy, defence counsel have endeavoured to prove that Goering, Hess, Ribbentrop and others cannot be considered as participants in the conspiracy.

I should like to quote here several arguments proving the groundlessness of the statements of the defence.

The conspiracy implies the existence of a criminal society created and working for the achievement of a common criminal purpose. Such a society undeniably

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existed. It stands to reason that in this case the strings and levers uniting the members of this conspiratory criminal society are extremely complicated, since the conspirators had seized the Government of the State.

In any criminal society and particularly in a society with many ramifications, individual participants committed criminal acts included in the general plan of the conspiracy, but they can practically remain unknown to a number of the members of this society. Nevertheless, as these crimes result from a single criminal plan, common to the entire society, the participants who have not personally committed these separate criminal actions and were not practically informed of them still bear the responsibility for them.

In this particular case the existence of the conspiracy is not precluded by the circumstance that, for instance, Schirach could be unaware of some of the measures of the slave-trader Sauckel, or the "pogrom-maker" Streicher, neither is the existence of the conspiracy precluded by the differences of opinion among individual participants in the conspiracy concerning particular questions, the intrigues of Goering against Bormann, etc.

Such dissensions may occur in any gang of robbers and thieves, but the gang does not cease to exist on this account.

In nearly every society there exists certain hierarchy among its members. Very often the head of a criminal gang usurps unlimited power over the other members, even unto the right of life and death; however, it seems that it never occurred to any lawyer in the world to deny the existence of a criminal society merely because its participants were not equal among themselves and one of them had power over the others.

It is, at any rate, strange to deny the existence of the conspiracy in the present case on account of the indisputable fact that great personal power was vested in the hands of the leader - Hitler. In the same way the existence of the conspiracy does not preclude but, per contra, implies a definite distribution of the parts played by the participants of the criminal group in pursuance of the common aim (one co-ordinates all the criminal activities, the other is in charge of questions of ideological training, the third prepares the Army, the fourth organizes the war industry, the fifth carries on diplomatic preparations, etc.).

Therefore, the Fascist conspiracy does not cease from being a conspiracy, but is a conspiracy which presents special danger, since the entire machinery of the Government and enormous resources of men and material are in the hands of the conspirators.

In the hands of the international criminals, in the hands of Goering, Keitel and the other defendants, immense armies become instruments of very grievous crimes.

This is the reason why specific features which distinguish the conspirators of Fascist Germany from any other gang, only lend it a specially dangerous character without changing the legal nature of the conspiracy.

Thus I complete the analysis of the legal arguments of the defence, which were examined in detail by my honourable colleagues.

As you have seen, your Honours, the arguments of the defence were found to be inconsistent and incapable of rebutting the charges.

I shall now consider the question concerning the guilt of the individual defendants.

Individual Responsibility:

In Hitlerite Germany the defendant Goering was next in importance to Hitler himself, he stood next in succession to him. He took upon himself extensive powers and seized the most responsible posts. He was the President of the Cabinet of Ministers for the Defence of the Reich, he was the Fuehrer for the direction of German economy - the Plenipotentiary-General for the Four-Year Plan, and the Commander-in- Chief of the "Luftwaffe." The main point was that

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he utilized this extensive field and dedicated all his forces to the organization and realization of the crimes set out in the Indictment.

As we already know, the essence of this conspiracy consisted first of all in the conquest of Europe and then in the world supremacy of Hitlerite Germany, regardless of any methods, however criminal and inhuman.

To realize this aim, a way had to be cleared since Hitler had already declared in February, 1933, at a conference with prominent German industrialists, that the parliamentary system must be destroyed.

Goering undertook this task. He began energetically to exterminate the political opponents of Fascism, and for this purpose carried out mass arrests of members of political parties unfavourable to Nazism.

He organized concentration camps where he interned, without trial, all those who disagreed with Fascism. He created the Gestapo which, from the day of its birth, established a regime of bloody terror. He demanded of all the officials, in the camps and of the Gestapo, not to hesitate before anything - and savage punishments of human beings, mutilations and massacres became, under his guidance, fundamental methods of work.

It is he, Goering, who declared: "Each bullet fired from the pistol of a policeman is my bullet, and if anyone calls it murder, this means that I have committed murder." (from Goering's book, Rebirth of a Nation, published by him in 1934).

Thus was the way cleared for Fascism, and the path paved for the unhampered progress and the realization of the Fascist conspiracy.

Goering was tireless in his efforts to annihilate everybody and everything which hampered the consolidation of this conspiracy. And Hitler praised him for this. For example, on 13th July, 1934, he declared to the Reichstag that Goering:

" ... with his iron fist smashed the attack against the National Socialist State before this attack could become effective."
All these terroristie activities of Goering were calculated to clear the way for the realization of the fundamental idea of the Fascist conspiracy, i.e., the conquest of Europe, and to achieve world supremacy of Hitlerite Germany.

The legal proceedings have established Goering's guilt in the planning and preparation of aggressive wars by Hitlerite Germany.

Numerous documents have been presented to the Tribunal, testifying to the active part played by Goering in the launching of aggressive wars. I shall remind you of Goering's declaration in 1935, at a conference of Luftwaffe officers. At that conference he declared that it was his intention "to create the Luftwaffe which shall strike the enemy, as an avenging blow. Even before the attack, the enemy must feel that his cause is lost," and this intention, as we know, he realized, preparing for war from day to day.

At the conference of the leaders of the German air industry, on 8th July, 1938, Goering hints that war is near, and that, if Germany emerges victorious from this war, she will be the most powerful State in the world, dominating the world markets, and she will become a wealthy nation. "To attain this purpose we must be prepared to accept risks." Such was the slogan which Goering voiced on that occasion.

On 14th October, 1938, not long before he presented demands to Czechoslovakia, Goering declared that he had begun to carry out a vast programme in comparison with which all previous undertakings were insignificant.

"In the shortest possible time, the Luftwaffe must be increased fivefold; the Navy must be rearmed at a much greater speed, and the Army must be rearmed far more extensively ... especially the heavy artillery and the heavy tanks. At the same time, the production of war materials and explosives must be intensified."
The active participation of Goering in the preparation for aggression against the USSR has been established beyond all possible doubt.

[Page 35]

The Tribunal will find proof of Goering's active participation as far back as November, 1940, in the development of a plan for the attack against the USSR, contained in the record of the conference of 29th April, 1941, on the organization of the economic staff "Oldenburg" and in the minutes of the conference held on 23rd February, 1941, at the house of General Thomas, as well as in the testimony of Goering himself during the session of 21St March, 1946.

It was Goering who, together with Rosenberg, Keitel and Bormann, at the conference with Hitler on 16th July, 1941, gave concrete form to the plans forthe dismemberment of the Soviet Union, the enslavement of its population and the despoliation of its riches. The plan to "raze Leningrad to the ground and hand it over to the Finns" was conceived with his participation. It was he who recommended the hangman Koch for the post of Reichskornmissar for the Ukraine, as a "personality with great initiative and good training."

Therefore, it can be considered that Goering's guilt in the planning and preparation of aggressive wars by Hitierite Germany has been fully established, and for this he must bear responsibility.

My colleagues have already invited the attention of the Tribunal to the criminal treatment of prisoners of war.

I shall just remind the Tribunal of the testimony given by the witness Maurice Lampe during the afternoon session of the 25th January, 1946, concerning the execution of Soviet, British, French and other officers in Mauthausen camp, in the extermination camps of Auschwitz and Maidanek, of the notes issued by the People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the USSR, Molotov, dated the 24th November, 1941, and the 27th June, 1942, presented to the Tribunal in connection with the monstrous ill-treatment inflicted by the German military authorities on Soviet prisoners of war, for which Goering is personally greatly responsible. I would also remind you of the depositions of the witness Halder, on the 31st October, 1945, describing a conference held at Hitler's headquarters, on the non-application of the Hague Convention with respect to the treatment of Russian prisoners, and of the order, issued from Hitler's headquarters, on the 12th May, 1941, on the treatment of captured Russian commanding officers and political workers.

All these crimes, established beyond any manner of doubt before the Tribunal, have no need for further clarification, since the defence in its statement was unable to advance any arguments in rebuttal.

In the "Twelve commandments for the behaviour of the Germans in the East" of June, 1941, the sixth commandment reads as follows:

"You must clearly understand that you, for a century to come, are the representatives of Greitter Germany and the standard-bearers of National Socialism in the new Europe. You must, therefore, in full conscience of your worth, carry out the most ruthless and the most cruel measures which will be demanded of you by the State."
The beginning of the systematic persecution and extermination of the Jewish population is connected with the name of Goering.

It was he who signed the man-hating Nuremberg decrees, the decrees for the expropriation of Jewish property, for the imposition on the Jews of a penalty of one billion, and other decrees; such activities were in full keeping with the whole of Goering's savage world-outlook.

At the trial Goering denied that he was an adherent of the racial theory, whilst in 1935 he made a speech before the Reichstag in defence of the Nuremberg racial instigators. On that occasion, he loudly declared:

" .... God has created races, He did not will equality, and for this reason we reject energetically every attempt to pervert the idea of race purity ....."
Numerous documents presented to the Tribunal by the prosecution expose the criminal actions of Goering in respect to other nations.

Goering's order issued on 19th October, 1939, clearly demonstrated the attitude of the defendant towards the Polish people and the Polish State.

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In an order relating to the economic policy in the East, issued on 23rd May, 1941, just before the attack on the USSR, Goering writes as follows on his attitude towards the Russians:
"Germany is not interested in maintaining productivity in this territory. She is supplying food only to the troops stationed there.... The population in those regions, and especially the urban population, is doomed to starvation. It will be necessary to deport this population to Siberia."
In his. capacity of Plenipotentiary for the Four-Year Plan, Goering is responsible for the plunder and spoilation of State property and the personal property of the citizens, carried out by the Nazis on the occupied territories of the USSR, in Czechoslovakia, Poland, Jugoslavia, and other countries. It was precisely Goering who headed the activities of the Nazi conspirators directed towards the economic plunder of the occupied territories of the USSR.

A conference in connection with the elaboration of economic measures according to case "Barbarossa" was held on the 29th April, 1941, prior to the treacherous attack against the USSR. As a result of this conference, there was created a special economic staff "Oldenburg" which was subordinated to Goering. The creation of special economic inspectorates and units in the largest centres of the USSR was planned; they were to handle important tasks for the exploitation and plunder of Soviet industry and agriculture.

The file of the district agricultural Fuehrer contained instructions to agricultural Fuehrers who were given full freedom in the choice of methods for the achievement of their criminal purposes. The demand for ruthless treatment of the Soviet peoples, with, in the first place, the Russians, the Ukrainians and the Byelorussians, was put forward.

The report of the USSR Extraordinary State Commission on the crimes com mitted by the Hitlerites in Kiev, in the region of Stalino and other places, states that these criminal plans of the defendant Goering and his accomplices were, for the greater part, realized.

To secure the necessary manpower for the German war industry and agriculture, and, at the same time, for the purpose of the physical extermination and economic weakening of the enslaved peoples, the defendant Goering and his accomplices in the Nazi conspiracy exploited the labour of foreign workers.

The exploitation of forced labour had been planned by the Nazis even before the war. It is sufficient to remind you of the conference at Hitler's headquarters which took place on 23rd May, 1939, and in which the defendant Goering also participated.

At the conference of 7th November, 1941, and in his order issued on 10th January, 1942, Goering demanded of all the departments subordinated to him the provision of the necessary manpower for the German industries, at the expense of the population of the occupied Soviet territories.

On 6th August, 1942, Goering held a conference with the Reich Commissars for the occupied territories and the representatives of military commands.

Addressing himself to the participants in this conference, he said:

"You are being sent there not to work for the well-being of the peoples entrusted to you, but for the purpose of extracting everything available....

You must be like hounds, wherever there is still something left. I intend to plunder and to do it efficiently."

These intentions were carried out. Goering plundered, the Reich Ministers and Reich Commissars for the occupied territories plundered, the representatives of the military commands, from the generals to the ordinary soldiers, also plundered.

Such were the activities of defendant Goering.

There is not a single measure executed by the Fascist Party, not a single step taken by the Hitlerite Government, in which he did not participate.

He participated actively in all the crimes of the Fascist gang and for all his deeds he must be duly punished.

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